JCPenney “coming off of a very strong year in home”

JCPenney Back to College season

Plano, Texas – With last month’s expansion of Forever 21 into home categories, JCPenney believes it is well-positioned for the Back-to-Campus season.

Through a series of 10 brand launches in apparel and home since 2019, JCPenney has developed more of a “young-minded business,” EVP and chief merchandise officer Michelle Wlazlo told Modern Retail.

Now that it is offering Forever 21 in dorm-friendly home goods as well as apparel, JCPenney is positioned as “a perfect one-stop shop for that customer to get things, whether it is for back to college or just young adults who are out on their own,” she said.

3 other takeaways from the interview:

Early reaction to Forever 21 Home: Throw pillows and plush bedding are the early stand-outs for the collection, which launched 16 days ago with 55 bedding and bath items.

Cross-merchandising: To build awareness for the home extension, JCPenney has seeded some Forever 21 Home merchandise in other parts of the store. “[I]t’s been really interesting to watch them find the throw pillows in the apparel area and go, ‘Oh, my gosh, what?’ And then run and go find more in the home area,” Wlazlo told Modern Retail.

Building out dorm essentials: With an eye to the BTC season, JCPenney last January rolled out a storage and organization program that includes collapsible boxes and bins.

Asked whether Bed Bath & Beyond’s liquidation factored into the bigger play for the dorm business, Wlazlo noted that JCPenney competed against the home goods category killer for many years.

“Really, we’ve been working on this since we saw the early reads of the success of Forever 21 within the apparel space,” she said.

And planning began in early 2023, “coming off of a very strong year in home.”

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